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Early Childhood Education Matters and Crucial Education Bills Move One Step Closer

Stand for Children Executive Director and Co-Chair of Arizona Early Childhood Alliance (AZECA), Rebecca Gau, speaking in the Senate Education Committee during Arizona Early Childhood Day.

Arizona Early Childhood Legislative Day 2018

Last Thursday, we participated with the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance in the 2nd Annual Arizona Early Childhood Legislative Day 2018. It’s a great annual event that allows us to work alongside other like-minded organizations with the common goal of making sure that our students have a strong start.

We had the chance to address the Senate Education Committee and talk about the importance of making sure students are ready for kindergarten. Art Rolnick, an award-winning early childhood advocate, made the case about why early childhood education is directly connected to economic development for communities.

You can watch the full Senate Education Committee video here:

Quotes from the Capitol

"Children from vulnerable families hear 30 million fewer words before kindergarten than their middle-income peers. This means that they enter kindergarten far behind and less likely to read by 3rd grade."
- Rebecca Gau, Stand for Children Arizona

"I started as a critic, and I'm going to tell you that the research is overwhelming that as a country, as a state, and as communities, we are underinvesting in early childhood education."
- Art Rolnick, Senior Fellow, University of Minnesota

ELL Bill Gains Steam and Heads Toward the Senate

Last week, we talked about an ELL bill we’ve been working for over two years. Yesterday it took one more step toward becoming a law. The House passed HB 2435 with a 56-1 vote and is now headed to the Senate.

This bill resulted from our work in Phoenix school districts and our parent members’ experience with the current state of ELL instructional practices.

Thanks to the leadership of Representative Paul Boyer, the House Education Chairman, Stand convened stakeholders and developed legislation to make desperately needed changes in Arizona’s ELL policies.

The Arizona Republic also featured this bill in an entitled, “11 Arizona Education Bills that Might Actually Become Law.” Here’s what they said about the bill:

“The legislation has been championed by various education advocacy groups, which have long said the state’s framework for teaching ELL students has proven ineffective. Arizona has one of the nation’s lowest graduation rates for students who are English language learners.”

We are excited about this bill, and we’ll keep you posted on any new developments.

Helping struggling readers

In addition to helping ELL students, we also want to make sure that we’re supporting struggling readers in grades K-3.

Earlier this year, the governor’s executive budget proposal included an increase for early literacy grants (from $8 million to $12 million) and a plan to restore ongoing additional assistance cuts for school districts and charter schools. We fully support these continued investments into K-12 education. HB 2520 would make sure funding awarded through this early literacy grant is targeted to receive the best return on investment.

HB 2520 also seeks to improve existing statutes on early literacy policies and practices by ensuring schools are using current evidence-based strategies to students in grades K-3.

We’re excited because yesterday this bill also passed with a 59-0 vote and head to the Senate.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s In The Trenches. We’re working a lot of things that will result in better outcomes — and we’re grateful for education advocates like yourself. Please, if you have any questions let us know.

Warmly, Rebecca, Stacey, Luis, Martin, Melissa, Liliana and Mia
The Stand for Children Arizona Team

In order to fulfill our mission, Stand for Children, Inc., our 501(c)4 organization, performs all advocacy and lobbying activities while the Stand for Children Leadership Center, our 501(c)3 organization, manages our parent and family education and engagement programs as well as Stand’s public awareness campaigns.
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